Team:Heidelberg LSL/Project humanPractice


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iGEM-2012HS - LSL-Heidelberg iGEM-2012HS - LSL-Heidelberg

Human Practice

As the Heidelberg Life-Science Lab is a place where science meets interested pupils, for us, it is very important to draw the connection between our scientific work and the non-scientific community. Many people are not aware of synthetic biology and only a minority is really informed about its potential. With our work, we want to encourage non-scientific readers to negotiate possible prejudices, learn more about our work in the lab and have an entertaining insight into the various applications of our new biological system.

How can high-school students learn about genetic engineering?

Learning by heart belongs to the past. We are learning by doing. Being normal high-school students, we want to show that everybody can understand the basic principles of how genetic circuits in cells can be 'engineered' and how intelligible most of the methods are. With our many explanations and protocols, we want to support, encourage and introduce upcoming high-school teams, interested teenagers, students and adults without vast knowledge to get involved into synthetic and molecular biology.

Science interesting and intelligible - why not writing a book?

This is the idea and motivation of the popular german scientific writer Dr. Olaf Fritsche. His upcoming book deals with the future of biological sciences. He will explain how scientific knowledge arises and show that everybody can understand facts when asking the right questions in science. Olaf approached us some weeks ago and asked whether he could visit our iGEM HS team in order to ask some basic questions about our project and team. Finally, he did not only visit us once, but several times, both inside and outside of the laboratory and followed our project from its start with the idea to its final end (his last visit was in the wiki-freeze night and he will follow up also after the iGEM jamboree). Its our great pleasure and honor, that Olaf Fritsche will report about our teams' and projects' development during taking part in the iGEM HS competition in his book in several passages embedded in different chapters. Fritsche’s work will show that establishing an iGEM project extracurricularly is ambitious but in the same way funny and intelligible. We hope that his book will encourage people outside of the synthetic biology community to overcome prejudices against science, in particular molecular biology and synthetic biology and become more educated and informed about modern life-sciences developments.

Why iGEMs and an Online Shop?

We carefully thought about possible applications of our UV-measuring system and decided that we should work in direction of an everyday-life product of which the general public should have most profits. For the integration of our measurment construct containing bacteria into such a product context, we thought about a funny and innovative way that could be coherent with current trends and that should evoke interest and curiosity amongst people. iGEMs, genetically modified gems, on bracelets and necklaces are a nice way to communicate our ideas to a great public.
Our idea of monitoring the intensity of the UV-radiation mediated by the sun goes along with the efforts of the Heidelberg German Cancer Reasearch Center for cancer prevention. This is due to the fact that continuous high doses of UV-radiation are one major risc factor for melanoma development. One of our major goals is to achieve more general awareness of cancer risks and cancer prevention possibilities. In our case we want to make sunbathing teenagers more aware of the enhanced risk to develop malign melanoma (black skin cancer) by getting sunburned and being exposed to intense UV-radiation frequently.
Presenting online store ‘Online store’ is - of course - just a fake (you can neither buy the iGEMS, nor the UV-sensing bacteria or anything). But it is supposed to give the user a reality-like impression of an everyday-life product which could be developed by using synthetic biology approaches. However, we tried to give it an authentic outfit in order to show that a similar version would be possible in future. To overcome the distance to our product, we tried to imitate with our ‘Online Shop’ common structure and design. As the customer nowadays is able to go online shopping, we arranged a similar option with our ‘Check out’ bottom in our ‘Online Store’. Here, interested readers can pre book an article and should explain briefly why the product would be most suitable especially for them. We would like to use this information to get an impression of the wishes of interested people in order to optimize our products and to get better insight of the common favour. Doing so, we want to show that we are eager to communicate with the non-scientific public and to encourage them in particular to think about considering iGEMs as a general possible application of small genetically engineered machines.

Watch us on! (in German language)

We are very happy that the online information platform ‘’ involved an interview with one of our participants, Charlotte Bunne, in one of their short documentations. Initiated by the German ministry for education and science, is a public platform to inform not only scientists, but also people without scientific backround about current results and technologies in biotechnological research. One of its main rubrics is a large video collection with short videos about many various areas associated with biotechnology. The platform always is up to date and we are very glad to be in the latest episode of Here, Charlotte explains briefly and very intelligible our idea, our concept and what we are doing right now. You can watch the interview at the bottom of the page. It starts at 3:55 min.

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